Molecular Partners prices $64M IPO, falling short of original goal

Molecular Partners has priced its IPO, setting it up to raise $63.8 million to fund work on oncology and infectious disease candidates. The IPO haul is set to fall well short of the original target after a five-day period in which the biotech’s share price in Switzerland fell 17%.

Zurich-based Molecular Partners filed to list shares on Nasdaq in April, at which time the plan was to raise up to $100 million to fund early-phase clinical trials in oncology and infectious diseases. Last week, the developer of a new class of custom-built protein drugs updated its paperwork and tied its planned IPO pricing to its Swiss stock, which traded for CHF 24.40, around $27, on June 8.

Since then, Molecular Partners’ stock has traded down to CHF 21.15. After suffering the double-digit drop in the price of its Swiss stock, Molecular Partners priced its U.S. IPO at $21.25. The price, which is below the level at which the Swiss stock closed on Tuesday, leaves Molecular Partners with a smaller haul than originally anticipated. 

Molecular Partners ended March with almost $155 million in the bank, suggesting it will still have the money to execute its plans despite the IPO failing short. The last IPO registration statement released by Molecular Partners proposed spending $25 million on completing a phase 1 trial of MP0317, $40 million on the expansion of an infectious disease program and $43 million on taking a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia through phase 1.

A deal with Novartis could further strengthen Molecular Partners’ balance sheet. Novartis paid CHF 20 million and bought a CHF 40 million stake in Molecular Partners in October as part of a deal for two antiviral COVID-19 candidates. Molecular Partners subsequently suffered a setback when the lockdown in the U.K. stopped it from dosing healthy volunteers from December 2020 to April 2021, but the program is now back on track. Novartis will have to pay CHF 150 million if it wants to opt in.

Molecular Partners has other deals with AbbVie and Amgen as well as wholly owned candidates that are on the cusp of clinical development. The AbbVie-partnered program, VEGF inhibitor abicipar, is the most advanced asset, but concerns about the ocular inflammation profile seen in phase 2 mean its future is uncertain.